Comrade, is this not an impressive hat?

When starting off in a new town, it helps to have friends.  It especially helps to have friends who live on a boat.  Sure, there’s the benefit that they can take you out on the boat in good weather, but an overlooked benefit is that if one lives on a boat, one falls into one of the following categories:

  • Love being on a boat so much you won’t leave it and become a hairy, suspicious hermit.
  • Never spends a minute on the boat except to sleep or sail.

Luckily for me, Fruit Cup falls into the later category, and as such knows every good place to go, every event happening, and every option (however marginal) to be somewhere other than home.  So it is that my introduction to Portland has not been slow and easy, but rather more of a shove off a high cliff into whatever teeming pit of madness PDX has to offer.  One such cliff revolved around Halloween.  Allow me to relate it to you now:

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I meet up with Fruit Cup at the Low Brow bar after work on a Friday and the laundry list of options he presented earlier in the day has narrowed to a single option: we will hit up Howl.

Howl, as it turns out, is a long-standing massive dance party on the eastside of the river.  A costume will be required.  I, however, have limited things in my possession, having divested myself of most worldly items eight months ago.

But Fruit Cup?  He lives for dress-up.  My lack of costume is not even a thing.  Why, on any given day in the trunk of his car he has a veritable emporium of options.  Sombrero?  Check.  Luchador mask?  Got three of ’em.  Fake chicken head mask?  I mean, who doesn’t have one of those in their cars for just such an occasion?

But this will not suffice.  We must go find fresh duds.  This being FC, he knows where to go.  A place called Red Light is our first destination and it proves to be quite capable of solving my sartorial needs for the night.  In short order I have tried on torn overalls in order to facilitate a hayseed / bubba kind of outfit (didn’t fit), a red lumpy shirt to perchance serve as the base for some odd disco-theme, a cape that might serve to inspire a demon / devil / vampire concoction, but none really lights up the inspiration sign.

Then FC finds a hat.  A marvelous hat.  A broad, ornate, Russian military configuration.  It screams, nay COMMANDS to be worn.  It promises to imbue its wearer the ability to speak with a stilted Russian accent, to begin all sentences with “Comrade”, and to influence many a vodka-laced encounter for the night.  In short order a matching military coat is found, then slacks as well.

The finishing touch: a mustache.  But not just any mustache: a long, bushy, black one.  With LED lights imbedded that twinkle on and off behind the black fibers, hinting that there is, indeed, a party happening on my very lip.

And so it is that this horror comes to fruition:

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Comrade, is this boat listing to the side?

Note the lone red dot on the mustache. Much more impressive in motion, I assure you.

Anyway: with FC set as a sailor (his girlfriend also as a female sailor, natch), and myself as some form of Russian military commander with secret lip-disco technology, we embark.

Upon arrival, a problem presents itself: FC has two tickets, but I have none. They, being holders of pre-purchased tickets, breeze right in. I, however, am left to languish in a line that extends down the block, and even around the corner.

This being a popular event, it could be a while.  It could even be that the place sells out. Imagine, all Russian’d up with nowhere to go! That would not do.

Still, there was nothing for it but to bide my time. This gives me ample time to appreciate all the creativity on display with my fellow line-waiters. Cookie monster is present, along with a bucket of cookies to offer everyone. Gay assess-chaps-cowboy puts in an appearance. Slutty Panda makes me wonder if I might have been better served being dressed as a stalk of bamboo. Ace Ventura with full tutu get-up and crazy hair make me curse the fact that I didn’t think of that. Laces out!

Eventually the line leads me to the guy that checks IDs, and it occurs to me this must be the most useless job ever on Halloween. How do you check the picture on the ID against whatever intricate and bizarre configuration stands before you? Answer: you don’t. Either that or he is so mesmerized by my mustache he just waves me in without a thought. I pay my money and begin my journey down the rabbit hole.

Now, it turns out this place is in an old warehouse down by the river. And it is huge. Multiple floors holding many rooms, DJs and dance floors. I wander about the teeming masses, pushing past Scary Batman, Sexy Wilma Flintstone, a pair of debauched Smurfs, trying to catch sight of my sea-faring friends. Eventually I stumble out the back to discover that the party continues even out there.

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The neighbors must LOVE this.

So, by now I’m pretty much sold on this place. A quick jaunt upstairs and I discover the sailors. Drinks in hand, we proceed to mingle properly.

Now, by “mingle” I mean “shout over the music”.  And by “we” I mean that The Friendly Skies (FC’s girl) proceeds to befriend everyone in site, which usually results in her introducing us hapless wankers to whomever she has currently befriended, at which point we proceed with the yelling and straining to hear.

Such is mingling in a dance club.

Fun is had. And many an impressive outfit is seen.  A girl dressed as SpongeBob knocks people out of the way with her cardboard box self.  A man with articulating six-foot wings that light up poses for pictures.  Multiple examples of Wonder Woman parade past.  Sadly I captured exactly zero pictures of all the awesomeness on display.

Through all this, it turns out we have situated ourselves under a backlight.  Friendly’s sailor outfit is all white.  This yields impressive results in the darkened room.

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Sailor tron?

Alas, as the night wears on, that fact that Friendly forgot to eat that day yields unfortunate results: her bloodstream becomes a solution of 90% alcohol and thus she and Fruit Cup bow out for the night. By this point, my own blood, if checked for alcoholic contaminants, would be found potentially abhorrent to all but the most desperate of vampires.

So the only option is to dance.  And dance and dance and dance.  Until, sometime around 2:30 in the morning, I realize that I’m rather tired.  Knackered.  Spent.  Ready for some shut-eye.

And it is only at this point that realize that tragedy has struck:

First: my mustache will no longer adhere to my face, despite repeated applications of stickum-stuff.

Secondly, and more tragically: my hat and I have parted ways at some point.

A brief search of my surroundings reveals that many of my fellow party attendees have started to lose parts of their costumes as well.  SpongeBob’s edges seem a bit worse for the wear.  The lone remaining Wonder Woman’s hair appears to be going askew, releasing a shock of light brown hair from underneath the blackness.  Poseidon’s trident has lost a tine.

Worse: I see no trace of The Hat.

And so it is with a heavy heart that I make my way back across the bridges, trudging towards my home, mourning the loss of, not just any hat, but THE Hat.  I mean, it really tied the room together.  Or outfit.  Something like that.

Luckily, at 3am in the morning, one’s concerns can be easily distracted. Especially by food.  Something which Portland does not lack:

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I love combining food as much as the next guy, but a burrito wrap pizza? I don’t even… yeah, okay, I want one. Gimme.